24 May 2010

Quote of the day

Charlie Brooker in The Guardian on the creation of artificial life:
Here's what happened: the scientists created a computer simulation of the goat bug thingy, then fed the code into a genetic synthesizer. You know, a genetic synthesizer. It looks like a George Foreman grill, but in white, and with twice as many winking lights on the top. They fed it into that. Probably using a USB stick. Anyway, the DNA grill heated up and went beep and "produced short strands of the bug's DNA", which I imagine were an absolute bugger to pick up with tweezers. Said strands were then "stitched together" by some bits of yeast and E coli, which eventually knitted the strand into a complete million-letter-long DNA sequence, which you're probably incorrectly picturing right now.
So far, so baffling. Then it gets weirder. To "watermark" their artificial bug, the geneticists spliced a James Joyce quotation into the DNA sequence. The unsuspecting genome now has the phrase "to live, to err, to fall, to triumph, to recreate life out of life" written through it like letters in a stick of rock. In other words, it's the world's most pretentious bacterium. After Quentin Letts.

I hope that the process is now understood.

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